Queensland Dear Sherryl

I am an assistant who works in a kindergarten in Queensland. I work with the children all day and for another hour after they leave. I don’t get a break during the day and I eat my lunch when they eat as I don’t get an unpaid meal break. Our agreement says I am entitled to a 30 minute paid meal break. It says that my paid meal break is taken at the end of the day when the children have left. The agreement also says that I should remain on premises. This requirement can be waived. I’m not sure what this means, can you help?


Dear Stacey,

Most kindergartens are not able to program an uninterrupted but unpaid meal break for employees. You eat your lunch with the children and it is counted as time worked. However, the agreement acknowledges you will get a 30 minute paid meal break. Most likely it is the last 30 minutes of each work day, after the children have gone.

The agreement says you should remain on premises for the break but this requirement can be waived. When you have finished all tasks for the day and if you have permission from the committee, you can leave work for your paid meal break. We suggest that at the start of each year the committee should state in writing what is to happen at the end of the day in relation to the paid meal breaks. Specifically, they should state clearly when your paid meal break is (eg the last 30 minutes of each day) and state whether employees are permitted to leave the premises for the paid break. Finally, there should be a statement about how long this arrangement is in place for – we suggest that it remains in place for the year.